I am reading The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Poor Students by Anthony Abraham Jack, Harvard University Press 2019.
I would highly recommend it to everyone who is interested in learning about what difficulties disadvantaged students encounter at elite colleges and how they struggle to overcome them.
It is very interesting and important to learn how low-income and disadvantaged students strive for inclusion and equality.
North is Scott Jurek’s account of his 2015 attempt to beat the record for the fastest known time to complete the Appalachian Trail on foot. It alternates his perspective on pushing himself to his physical and mental limits with his wife’s memory of leading his support team. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the motivations and mindset of extreme athletes.
Noncredit Business/Life Skills
I am re-reading Living Beautifully by Pema Chodron, an American Tibetan Buddhist nun. Her work is unbelievably spiritual and fully applicable to living a mindful life: awake, aware, and present (maybe even excited about!) living in the uncertainty of the world. Especially timely in today’s world.
I just finished a fun novel Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman. Great summer read about a couple’s discovery on their honeymoon.
The Lost Girls of Paris, Pam Jenoff: Historical fiction inspired by true events. Details the lives Eleanor Trigg and 4 of the many English women she trained to infiltrate the German war machine in France during WW II. Set in France, ordinary women who stepped up to work with the resistance movement, and did I mention set in France??? What’s not to love??? Another great summer read.
Mary Elizabeth Barrett
I just finished Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro. The memoir is about the author discovering the truth of her paternity in her mid-50s after casually taking a mail-in DNA test. The memoir tracks her psychological process as she navigates tracking down her biological father and reevaluating her personal and familial identity, as well as her Jewish ancestry and ethnicity. A fascinating page-turning memoir from an accomplished writer.
Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman by Yvon Chouinard (owner and founder of Patagonia).
I’d recommend this book to anyone curious about how a business can be run ethically and profitably. It relates the founding and history of Patagonia, an American outdoor clothing and gear company. Warning: this book may get you pumped on Patagonia; consequently, you may find yourself online ordering some of their clothing, which could throw your budget out of whack if you’re not careful.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Harari
There are many reasons to recommend this book, but what I enjoyed most are the uncommon perspectives of human history that it offers. I’ll give one example. It is often taught that we domesticated wheat, but why couldn’t it be the reverse? Before agriculture, we were not sedentary and did not have to spend all our days working. Along comes wheat and it somehow tempted us to give up our relatively free mode of living for one in which we spend all day tending a crop. Yes, there are supposed benefits to agriculture that we can all think of, but Harari counters them well enough to make you wonder if we got a raw deal when we partnered with wheat.
About Grace by Anthony Doerr
I thought Doerr’s All The Light We Cannot See was fantastic, so I was interested in About Grace, his earlier book. It really is not as good as All the Light We Cannot See, though still a good read.
There’s definitely magical realism to this book; the main character has dreams (nightmares) that come true, though he tries to outwit them and change the outcome. The characters are all interesting and I think likable. I'm about 70% finished, and I still don’t know what happened to Grace, his daughter about whom he has his second premonition nightmare. Like the main character, the story ambles and meanders a bit, but that doesn’t bother me, and I’m finding his adventure intriguing.
I’m currently reading (and loving!) the short novel Mirror, Shoulder, Signal by Danish writer Dorthe Nors. So much about this work is of interest to me, but here’s what I like most of all: 1) the way the plot is driven more by inward reflection than by occurrences or action (though things do happen!); 2) the complexity of the central character who seems to be a peacemaker by nature (and maybe somewhat shy) but who finds ways to assert herself when needed.
I’m currently reading White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. She has really created an important conversation about something that many don’t want to address or feel comfortable addressing. I wish this book had been around longer, but am so grateful it’s available for this time now.